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Despite big dropouts, CES aiming for an in-person conference

Amazon, Meta and Twitter won't be there but the Consumer Technology Association still plans to host the four-day tech conference in Las Vegas next month

In this file photo taken on January 07, 2020, people attend the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) pushed ahead with plans to host the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) technology conference in person next month in Las Vegas, despite cancellations from several major tech companies and exhibitors. A key reason is the covid-19 variant Omicron's rapid spread.

“CES 2022 will go forward as important innovation for world health and safety, mobility and solving problems will be exhibited,” the trade group said in a statement this week. “Furthermore, thousands of smaller and medium sized companies rely on CES for their business.”

Also read: CES 2021: How the tech sector is aiming to zap the covid-19 virus with new gadgetry

Over the past few days, exhibitors like T-Mobile US Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc. have curtailed plans to attend the gathering, which starts on 5 January, in person. Other high-profile attendees, such as Inc. and Twitter Inc., won’t be going either. But the CTA said Wednesday that the cancellations add up to less than 7% of its exhibit floor. The organization said it has received 42 cancellation notices from exhibitors but that it has added 60 new ones since last week, a Bloomberg report explains.

Lenovo Group Ltd., one of the largest exhibitors at the annual showcase, announced later on Wednesday that “after closely monitoring the current trends surrounding Covid,” it has decided to “suspend all on-site activity in Las Vegas.”

The CTA added the “vaccination requirement, masking and availability of Covid-19 tests -- coupled with lower attendance and social distancing measures” give it confidence that “attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distanced but worthwhile and productive event in Las Vegas.”

But organizations aren’t relying only on the physical event; there will be an online version of CES for those not attending in person. “Registrations for both our digital access and our Las Vegas event are continuing to show strong momentum, with thousands more registrations in the last few days,” the CTA said.

Representatives for General Motors told AFP that the US automaker has not changed its plans for CES, which is expected to have an abundance of car tech on display.

GM plans to reveal a new electric model of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, and chief executive Mary Barra is slated to give a keynote presentation on a vision for the mass adoption of electric vehicles.

(With inputs from AFP and Bloomberg)

Also read: CES 2021: How will we hit the road in a covid-changed world?

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